White Sox 6, Twins 1: Muzzling Minnesota again
If Yasmani Grandal’s injury preceded Zack Collins’ breakout on Tuesday, it only makes sense that the players for whom Adam Eaton’s DFA made room would make their presences felt this afternoon.
Leury García came a double short of the cycle with three hits and three RBIs, while Adam Engel, Brian Goodwin, Billy Hamilton and Jake Burger all had two hits. Throw in Tim Anderson reaching all five times at the leadoff spot Eaton occupied the night before, and that’s how the White Sox breezed to a series victory in Minnesota that also cinched the season series with seven games left to play.
Lance Lynn lost his rhythm after a couple innings and ended up laboring over his last four, but his six innings of one-run ball was still good enough to lower his ERA below 2 (1.99). He’s now 9-3, and has a strong case to start for the American League in the All-Star Game, even if this seems like Shohei Ohtani’s time to shine.
While Lynn kept it together to get through two-thirds of the game, Michael Pineda hit a wall in the middle innings. A resounding Trevor Larnach solo shot narrowed the White Sox’s lead to 2-1, but Pineda couldn’t keep that gap cinched. Hamilton doubled to start the fifth, took third on Seby Zavala’s sac bunt, then scored on Anderson’s first-pitch double to get that run back.
The Sox broke it open an inning later. Engel smashed a double past a drawn-in Luis Arraez at third, stole third on Pineda, then scored when García smoked a liner to the right-center gap for an RBI triple. He then scored when Jake Burger inside-outed a pitch to the base of the right-field wall for a double and his first RBI, both of which chased Pineda from the game.
The Sox then strung together a strong sequence for a third consecutive inning against Derek Law. Anderson singled to make it 4-for-4, Gavin Sheets walked, and although José Abreu grounded into a double play, Goodwin picked him up with an double through the left side for the game’s last run.
The insurance runs were appreciated since it wasn’t clear if Lynn would last through six, and because Liam Hendriks probably wasn’t available after a two-inning save on Tuesday. He mostly had problems with the top of the Minnesota order. Arraez, Jorge Polanco and Larnach combined to reach five times against Lynn from the first three spots. Whether he lacked confidence in his command, respected the middle of the Minnesota order or merely wasn’t used to working with Seby Zavala, the start felt a little creakier than the line would indicate. But part of Lynn’s thing is having a quality start when the smoke clears, and here’s another one for his ledger.
It helped that García spotted him an early lead against Pineda when he followed an Engel double by turning on a slider down and in and hoisted it into the first row of the right-field seats. Lynn spent most of the game ahead, and he kept it that way.
Ryan Burr bounced back from his only rough outing thus far with a scoreless seventh on six pitches. Codi Heuer gave up two bloop singles over the course of three batters, which is his custom, but Garrett Crochet helped him escape the eighth with a strikeout and flyout. Jose Ruíz handled the ninth.
*Anderson is now 12-for-18 lifetime against Pineda, and he’s back to hitting .307 with a .346 OBP on the season. He also made an athletic leaping catch in shallow left-center field, playing a soft line drive like a middle linebacker getting an interception.
*One of Hamilton’s two hits was a single on a ball that bounced in front of the plate.
*The White Sox are now 10-2 against Minnesota this year, which is more than half of the 15½-game gap between them.
*Zavala went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his first start of 2021, but the bunt helped, and there was only one passed pitch on his watch, which wasn’t his fault.
Record: 51-35 | Box score | Statcast
Zavala hit the ball hard (97.9 mph EV with an xBA of 0.440) in the 6th inning. I don’t have high hopes for Zavala as a hitter but it was good to see. He never hit a ball hard last year.
Cleveland lost both games today, and are now 8 games back in the Central. Gotta love that!
They are twice as close to the Tigers in third than the Sox in first
I’ll admit when I was getting myself worried about the Tampa and Houston stretch for the Sox I checked the Cleveland schedule and realized they had Houston and Tampa coming up too and relaxed. Houston is likely to run away with the best record in the AL, but Boston is over performing their scoring differential by quite a bit and could come back to the pack especially with their three straights weeks against only AL East teams coming up.
With this lead, how crazy of an idea would it be to let Kopech build stamina in July and go into the rotation in August and rotate the starters in the IL to give them a break. Then move Kopech back to the pen in September with our starters refreshed for the finish. Given the 100 game increase from last year, this lets each starter get a 2 start break and gets Kopech the innings he will need.
Cleveland can’t hit. I am baffled how Cleveland FO thought they could compete with such a putrid offense. Their team, collectively has a 85 wRC+ which is worse in the AL. They have only scored more runs than the Royals and the Orioles. They are 2nd to last in OBP with a paltry .293
They are now a .500 club with 9 losses in a row. The Twins don’t have pitching, Cleveland doesn’t have hitting. Detroit is not there yet, and the Royals are bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if the White Sox wins the division by more than 20 games.
Ah but you see, they aren’t spending any money. So checkmate!
Great rebound. Looking ahead with Engel back along with Hamilton I see no reason to play Goodwin in center anymore hopefully. Protect you’re the health of your starting pitchers and reduce bullpen innings at the same time by not giving teams extra outs.
Jim, I hope you’re compiling an end-of-season retrospective on the ways Billy Hamilton unexpectedly brought joy to our lives. Today’s single was another moment.
Great point. Every day, Hamilton looks like the kid who got the last seat on the bus to Disney World. I like that his hustle matches his enthusiasm.
The Billy Hamilton Experience. Embrace it.
Hamilton has something that makes me enjoy what he does even though I know it is not much. Hamilton can be a valuable asset come down the post season with outstanding speed and great defense. Hahn must find a way to keep him until roster expands